2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

American Indian Sovereignty: Competing Contexts


Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 quarters

Kristina Ackley Native American studies , Jose Gomez constitutional law
Fields of Study
Native American studies, cultural studies and law and government policy
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Native American studies, law, public policy, and tribal government and policy.

American Indians have a relationship with the federal government unlike that of any other ethnic or political group in the United States. They have consistently organized at all levels to renew and defend their rights to self-governance and nationhood. In this two-quarter program, we will consider the various ways in which sovereignty has been understood and contested, taking as our broad starting points the competing contexts of Indigenous knowledge systems and the U.S. Constitution.

Recognizing that sovereignty must be placed within local, historical, cultural and global contexts, our theoretical readings and discussion will move from nation building in America to Native forms of nationalism, and emphasize the politics of indigeneity in an international context. We will examine the historical background and basic doctrines of federal Indian law, including the history of federal Indian policy, the foundations of tribal sovereignty, and federal roles in Indian affairs. Students will learn about Indigenous governments and the areas in which they exercise authority. We will examine the sources and limitations of federal power over indigenous peoples and tribes, state and federal constraints on tribal authority, and definitions of citizenship. We will also consider how contemporary Indigenous nations and communities capitalize on economic, political and intellectual resources.

In the fall quarter, students will gain an understanding of the legal nature of the relationship between American Indians and the United States. Beginning with the American Constitution and the era of the early republic, the federal-Indian relationship will be discussed in terms of settler colonialism. Students will examine the ways that Indigenous communities have persisted and revitalized, developing intellectual traditions and structures based on their relationships to one another and to the land. Moving beyond the United States, we will consider the politics of indigeneity in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Winter quarter will focus on topical issues that have emerged in the 20th and 21st centuries, including attempts to appeal to international law, treaty rights and co-management, sustainable landscapes and communities, Indigenous cultural representation, and the media. In major projects in the fall and winter quarters, students will work on a contemporary issue within Washington state that is of particular interest to local Indigenous nations. Working in legal teams, students will develop appellate briefs on real Indian law cases decided recently by the federal courts and will present oral arguments before a mock court. Students will also rotate as justices to read their peers' appellate briefs, hear arguments and render decisions. Throughout the quarter, students will learn to write appellate briefs based on real cases currently winding through the federal courts. This appellate advocacy project will culminate in oral arguments before the Evergreen Supreme Court.

Online Learning
Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online
Greener Store
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
December 12th, 2012 This program willl accept new enrollment winter quarter without signature. Students should read Charles Wikinson's Blood Struggle to prepare for class.